Making the collapse of the government in Madhya Pradesh all but certain, state assembly speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati late Thursday night accepted the resignations of the remaining 16 rebel Congress MLAs who have been in Bengaluru since March 9.
With this, the resignations of all 22 MLAs in former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia's camp who resigned on March 10 now stand accepted - bringing down the total strength of the assembly to 206 where the ruling Congress with 92 members and seven allied MLAs is now at least five short of a simple majority of 104. The opposition BJP with 107 MLAs is three more than the simple majority.
While announcing the acceptance of the 16 remaining resignations with effect from March 10, the Speaker said, "In the wake of the Supreme Court directions on Thursday, the legislature is following the judiciary, while the constitution is silent."
When asked about reconvening the assembly session on Friday to hold a floor test as directed by the Supreme Court, the speaker said, "You'll get to see on Friday."
Shortly after, the Madhya Pradesh assembly said the floor test had been scheduled for 2 pm. The Congress and BJP have both issued whips to its legislators to be present in the house on Friday and vote as per party lines in the floor test.
The Congress government in the state has been on the brink of collapse since last week after 22 MLAs -- loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the Congress and joined the BJP last week, sent in their resignation.
Ordering the session to be reconvened on Friday, the court said, "There will be only one agenda - whether the government enjoys strength. The state of uncertainty in Madhya Pradesh should be effectively resolved by a floor test".
The Chief Minister, whose government had a wafer-thin majority, has been insisting that he has the numbers. But the 10-day adjournment of the assembly, which reconvened on Monday for the budget session, prompted the BJP to take the case to the Supreme Court.
The BJP has contended that the government was delaying the trust vote with the excuse of the coronavirus outbreak.
The court, which remarked that a long time frame before a trust vote leaves room for "horse-trading", named a date this evening after hearing the case for two days.
"The voting has to be done peacefully, by a show of hands. It has to be videographed and there has to be live telecast of the proceedings," the judges said.